Church Helps Fund Relief for Brazilians Suffering From Floods and Landslides

News Release

Incessant rain over the past two weeks has triggered fatal landslides and flooding in areas around Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In what is already being referred to as Brazil’s worst natural disaster in half a century, 640 people have perished across the cities of Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis and Petrópolis, and scores of others are missing.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sent 52 tons of food and approved funds to purchase basic food, hygiene kits and especially clean drinking water for those affected by the devastating floods in Brazil.

Though the exact numbers are still uncertain, due to disruptions in communications and transportation routes, thousands of people in the affected areas have lost their homes in massive landslides.

The government has opened shelters throughout the region. Thousands of other families living on mountain slopes and riverbanks are considered to be at extreme risk.More than 13,000 people are seeking shelter from the rising waters. Medical relief services are being taxed by the high number of injured.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reports that all its missionaries serving in the affected regions are safe and accounted for. More than 200 Church members have lost their homes; 75 of these are being sheltered in the Teresópolis meetinghouse.

"Very dedicated Latter-day Saints prepare meals, entertain the children and develop activities with them," said President Antonio de Oliveira, a local Church leader in Teresópolis. "They are unsung heroes."

One of the homeless staying in a Latter-day Saint chapel is Mrs. Josie, who with her three children lost her entire house and property. "I do not know what to think," she says with a look of sadness and depression. "I know that my father did not die, but I do not know where he is. I lost everything, but my kids are here."

Church leaders are attending to the needs of displaced members, coordinating community response efforts with the Civil Defense and the Red Cross and monitoring the changing situation.

*This news release was updated on 18 January 2011.

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